14 June

National Bourbon Day


So we are drinking a...


In America, today is celebrated as National Bourbon Day. And as the whiskey is widely exported so this celebration has travelled and is now celebrated in numerous countries around the world.

Why June 14th? Well, legend has it that bourbon was first produced by Reverend Elijah Craig this day in 1789. The story goes that Craig, apparently already a distiller of note, was either warming oak staves over a fire as part of barrel making or charred a barrel that had contained fish to remove the smell. Either way he filled a heavily charred barrel with his distillate and found the whiskey from that cask was greatly improved, being mellower and with a vanilla sweetness.

The story continues, that when Craig's distinctive golden-coloured whiskey was sent down the river to New Orleans, numerous requests came back for the 'whiskey from Bourbon', a reference to the stamp placed on the barrels at the port of Mayville, Bourbon County, from where his product was shipped down the river.

Or it could simply be that the Anti-Prohibition lobby wanted to pin the creation of bourbon on a religious man, so spinning the yarn. Fact is, ageing in toasted/charred new oak casks is crucial to bourbon's distinctive character.

And it is more likely that it was a medical man, Dr James Crow, rather than a man of the cloth, who created the style of whiskey we recognise as bourbon today with his mastering of the sour mash process sometime between 1825 and 1845. Or perhaps it was not a man at all, but a woman - Catherine Carpenter of Casey County, Kentucky who is thought to have been the first to use the sour mash process in 1818.

Let's not let the truth stand in the way of a good story - or a good excuse to drink bourbon. So, we're toasting the good Reverend with a Haberdasher - made reverential by its use of Chartreuse. And such a momentous day calls for more than one drink so we present our 20 best Bourbon cocktails for your delectation.

It's sandpaper's birthday

Sandpaper is a simple enough invention but invention it is, and so patented it, this day in 1834 by one Isaac Fischer, Jr, of Springfield, Vermont.

Despite the name 'sandpaper', or 'glasspaper' as it is often called, the abrasive material glued onto these sheets of paper or rolls of cloth is neither sand nor glass. These materials have been replaced by abrasives such as aluminium oxide or silicon carbide.

Anyone that has ever had to prep a piece of wood for painting will know how important a piece of sandpaper is. So, pat yourself on the back for all the do-it-yourself you've ever done, but give DIY a miss today, and instead enjoy an appropriately named Sandy the Showgirl cocktail.

Today is also World Blood Donor Day

The UN has decreed today World Blood Donor Day. So, if you haven't given blood for a while - or ever - now's a great time to head for tea, biscuits and that unnervingly vampiric moment when the syringe starts slurping the red stuff out of your arms.

Blood transfusion was first attempted back in the 17th century when a doctor transferred blood from one dog to another - without killing the recipient. Unfortunately, attempts on people often proved fatal, so it took a couple of hundred years - and quite a few dogs - before transfusions took off.

Given blood lately? Then reward yourself with a shot of your favourite tequila, accompanied, in the authentic Jalisco style, with the spicy scarlet blend they call "little blood" - Sangrita.

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